Würzburg

  • A Karen Brown Recommendation

The 12th-century diplomat, Gottfried von Viterbo, described Würzburg as “lovely, like a rose set in deep-green foliage—sculpted into the valley like an earthly paradise.” It no longer seems like a paradise but it certainly is a lovely city with two outstanding sightseeing venues: the Episcopal princes’ Residenz and the Marienberg Fortress. Try to secure a parking place in the vast forecourt of the well-signposted *Residenz, one of the finest baroque palaces in Europe, constructed between 1720 and 1744. It was built as the very grandest of homes for the prince-bishop who decided that his home in the nearby Marienberg Fortress simply wasn’t grand enough. Admire its architecture from the landscaped gardens and peep into the colorful Hofkirche (to the right near the garden) before entering the palace. If your arrival does not coincide with a tour in English, purchase the English guidebook so that you can follow along. Climb the magnificent grand staircase (it appeared on the DM 50 bill) and admire the splendid oval Imperial Hall with its magnificent frescoes, where several characters have slipped out of the frescoes to become statues. From here you join an escorted tour of the Imperial Apartments, following along in your English guidebook as you move from one lavishly decorated room to another. (Tour in English 11 am and 2 pm; open 9 am–5 pm, April to September; 10 am–4 pm, October to March; closed Mondays.) Vineyards climb up to the Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress), overlooking the town from the other bank of the River Main. The fortress has evolved over the years and now contains the Mainnfränkisches Museum of regional art and folklore including some old winemaking implements. The most beloved exhibits are the sculptures of Tilman Riemenschneider who lived in Würzburg from 1483 to 1531—you will see another of his masterpieces later in the day. (9 am–5 pm, April to October; 10 am–4 pm, November to March, closed Mondays.)

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